Throughout his life, Bach remained a passionate composer of sacred cantatas, which underpinned his unshakeable commitment to the Lutheran church. While he also turned his hand to secular cantatas, he remains best known for his religious works, and this collection delves into a varied selection representing all the important festivals in the Christian calendar. Along with some of the best-known examples, such as ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’ BWV80, with its triumphant timpani and trumpets, listeners will also find a treasure trove of lesser-known gems. With Bach, though, a lack of popularity rarely means a drop in quality: indeed, a wealth of timbre and colour is to be found in some of his earlier works, such as ‘Aus der tiefen, rufe ich, Herr, zu dir’ BWV131, a setting of the psalm ‘De Profundis’. In this, as in many of his cantatas, we are left spellbound by the imaginative interplay between chorus and soloists, climaxing in a resonating cry of ‘Israel!’ The religious texts, which at the time of their use had recently been translated into Bach’s native German, are exploited for all their lyricism and spiritual meaning; whether dwelling mournfully on ‘Seufzer’ (sighing), or celebrating with a resonant ‘Hallelujah!’, Bach’s sacred cantatas will stir any listener, religious or not.
The cantatas here have been specially selected from a recently released Brilliant Classics box set, Bach’s Complete Sacred Cantatas (94365). Renowned conductor Pieter Jan Leusink heads a stellar line-up of musicians, including the Holland Boys Choir and Netherlands Bach Collegium, playing entirely on period instruments. Praised for their ‘characteristic performances, marked by a great sense of authenticity’ (Gramophone), the recordings were produced for the ‘Bach year’ 2000, 250 years since the composer’s death. The boy sopranos, just as they would have sounded in Bach’s time, lend an assured accompaniment to the soloists, who give a consummate and compelling performance.
- Recordings: 1999–2000.
- The Bach’s Cantatas have secured their place in the canon of human creations of eternal value. In no other oeuvre one finds the expression of all universal human emotions, from utter grief to extatic joy, from turbulant drama to serene contemplation.
- This set presents a generous selection of the best loved, most famous cantatas, works which have for centuries been a source of strength and consolation for many generations, and hopefully will be for many to come.
- Featuring the Holland Boys Choir (as used in Bach’s own time), the Early Music ensemble Netherlands Bach Collegium, and conducted with passion by Pieter Jan Leusink.
- Booklet contains detailed notes on each cantata.
- Sung texts available for download by clicking on ‘Download booklet’, below the cover (on release).